Holmes HAP242-UC Review
Cheapism previously listed the Holmes HAP242-UC (starting at $36, Amazon) as one of the best cheap air purifiers, and recent upgrades to the available filter choices make it even more attractive, although the competition this year is stiffer. The Holmes HAP242-UC is designed for spaces up to 109 square feet, making it ideal for an office or small room. It claims a smoke CADR of 70, which is a decent but not great number for its coverage range. The low price includes an optional ionizer, a function that many see as a boon but may be best avoided given the potential health risks of ionization technology (see our buying guide for further details).
The Holmes HAP242-UC now caters to a much wider range of air-cleansing needs with a full line of specialized AER1 filters, which range from a standard HEPA-type model to an "Allergen Performance Plus" version that takes HEPA technology one step further and promises to cleanse indoor air of 99.99 percent of particles as small as 0.3 microns. All the filters are supported by carbon pre-filters to absorb smoke and help neutralize odors caused by pets, cooking, and other sources. The HAP242-UC gets particular credit for its ability to deal with tobacco fumes, with one user saying that it almost miraculously made life with a chain-smoking grandmother bearable for her young daughter.
Even without opting for the more advanced, more expensive filter replacements, the Holmes HAP242-UC seems to handle dirt and allergens in the air fairly well. It was clear that many consumers who reviewed the product on Amazon had no idea that this model can be fitted with a true HEPA filter, and nevertheless there were scores who reported that the air purifier provided relief from stuffy noses, sneezing, and other breathing difficulties caused by pet or seasonal allergies. More than few reviewers noted that this Holmes model picks up huge amounts of dust. The manufacturer recommends replacing the less finely meshed HEPA-type filters every four months.
Given how many reviews comment that the small size of this unit makes it ideal for keeping next to the bed to help ease nighttime congestion, one might assume the Holmes HAP242-UC is a relatively quiet operator. Yet there are many complaints of noise from this model, even on lower settings, and frequent references to the "white noise" created by this machine. Whether you expect to find these sounds soothing or otherwise, know that this model's presence in your home will not be entirely unobtrusive.
Be warned that at least three customers have posted on Amazon that their particular units caught fire or parts of the plastic casing melted. None of these reviewers explained the specific circumstances, however, and there have been no recalls of the product or widespread reports that it poses a fire hazard. Perhaps these were faulty units or poorly maintained. Given that this model collects so much dust, and many users run it 24 hours a day, it's important to keep it clean and follow proper guidelines and suggested timeframes for filter replacement -- even as the ongoing expense adds up. Ironically, it could cost more to go with the "HEPA-type" filters that need to be replaced more frequently than a true HEPA filter with a 12-month usage window.